VHA Handbook 1400.06_ Foreign Travel

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					Department of Veterans Affairs                                        VHA HANDBOOK 1400.06
Veterans Health Administration                                              Transmittal Sheet
Washington, DC 20420                                                         January 14, 2010

                                      FOREIGN TRAVEL

1. REASON FOR ISSUE. This Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Handbook revises
procedures associated with VHA staff foreign travel in order to increase the efficiency of the
approval processes, and maintain and improve oversight and accountability.

In today's sensitive international environment, foreign travel carries the potential for personal,
financial and institutional risk. In an effort to reduce risk and streamline approval processes, the
VHA Foreign Travel Handbook has been revised.

2. SUMMARY OF CONTENTS/MAJOR CHANGES. This Handbook:

    a. Rescinds, clarifies and revises procedures to better reflect current VHA structure and
foreign country travel environments.

    b. Eliminates duplicative procedures and establishes a clear process to request foreign travel
that identifies other Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and VHA offices and requirements
which are necessary to facilitate foreign travel approvals.

   c. Provides a strategy that decentralizes the review and approval process while maintaining
accountability.

   d. Accommodates new policies and procedures from the Office of VA Travel Policy.

    e. Clearly enumerates responsibilities of the traveler to provide adequate and appropriate
information to support the request for foreign travel, and obtain required consultations and
approvals.

   f. References approved VA Form 0893, Advance Review of Offer to Donate Support for
Official Travel.

   g. Eliminates the requirement for a Veterans Affairs Central Office (VACO) Foreign Travel
Review Committee.

    h. Delegates to the Network Director of Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 21,
the authority to approve travel to the Philippines Outpatient Clinic (OPC) by VISN 21 staff,
when such travel is to address administrative or clinical management issues.

   i. Identifies a process for development of a quarterly report to address oversight and
compliance.

   j. Reaffirms the delegation of authority to medical center Directors for foreign travel to
Canada and Mexico.



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3. RELATED ISSUE. VA Handbook 0631.2.

4. RESPONSIBLE OFFICE. VHA Office of Academic Affiliations (14).

5. RESCISSIONS. M8, Part 5, Chapter 3; VA Forms 10-0101, 10-0101A, and 10-0101B,
Request for Approval of Acceptance of Gifts or Donations; and VA Form 10-5504, Foreign
Travel Request-Briefing Slip are rescinded.

6. RECERTIFICATION. This VHA Handbook is scheduled for recertification on or before
the last working day of January 31, 2015.




                                         Gerald M. Cross, MD, FAAFP
                                         Acting Under Secretary for Health

DISTRIBUTION:       E-mailed to the VHA Publication Distribution List 1/20/10




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                                                               CONTENTS

                                          FOREIGN TRAVEL HANDBOOK

PARAGRAPH                                                                                                                                PAGE

1. Purpose...................................................................................................................................… 1

2. Background ............................................................................................................................… 1

3. Scope ......................................................................................................................................... 1

4. Procedures ..............................................................................................................................… 1

5. Definitions..............................................................................................................................… 4

6. Overview of Foreign Travel Approval Processes ..................................................................... 6

7. Roles and Responsibilities of the Traveler ............................................................................... 7

8. Supervisory Approvals ............................................................................................................... 8

9. Records and Reports ................................................................................................................ 11

APPENDICIES

A. Foreign Travel Approval Decision Grid ................................................................................ A1

B. Foreign Travel Information Collection Sheet ........................................................................ B1

C. Required Information: Travel Dates and Expenses ............................................................... C1

D. Required Information: Travel Fund Sources.......................................................................... D1

E. Required Information: Additional Questions ......................................................................... E1

F. Link to VA Form 0893........................................................................................................... F1




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VHA HANDBOOK 1400.06                                                             January 14, 2010

                                      FOREIGN TRAVEL

1. PURPOSE

  This Handbook establishes approval authorities and procedures relating to foreign travel by
VHA personnel.

2. BACKGROUND

    International meetings and educational opportunities occur annually throughout the world.
VHA staff are often requested to present information at conferences or participate in
administrative, technical, or other onsite reviews or activities, such as inspecting health care
facilities or health care delivery systems. VA patient care, education, research and administration
are enhanced by experiences which lead to new knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors.
There is benefit and value to VA in allowing these types of travel opportunities.

3. SCOPE

    a. This Handbook addresses travel to foreign countries while in duty status. Procedures and
criteria are delineated to minimize risks involving safety and security of the traveler, which are
inherent in the current international environment. Legal issues such as conflicts of interest also
create potential risk, and methods of avoidance are addressed in this Handbook.

    b. This Handbook allows delegation of authority to the lowest possible managerial level in
VHA and reaffirms the delegation of authority for medical center Directors for foreign travel to
Canada and Mexico. Travel to these locations is exempt from procedures described in this
Handbook. NOTE: Official government passports are required for travel to Mexico and
Canada, as these are foreign countries even though these countries are exempt from the foreign
travel approval procedures in this Handbook.

4. PROCEDURES

    The Department of State requires all official travel to a foreign country to proceed under an
official government passport. Any travel time while in an official duty capacity, which includes
authorized absence, constitutes non-personal time, and needs to be performed under the auspices
of an official government passport. If at anytime during the episode of foreign travel, the traveler
takes annual leave, or vacation, a personal passport is also required for that portion of the trip.
At no time shall a VHA employee travel under an official government passport while on annual
leave. In addition, at no time shall a VHA employee travel under a personal passport while
conducting official government business.

  a. VHA management has the responsibility to review carefully all foreign travel requests of
VHA employees, including those trips where only authorized absence is requested.




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    b. VHA management has the responsibility to ensure travel to foreign countries is a fiscally
responsible decision and avoids conflicts of interest generated by the acceptance of gifts, i.e.
when funding originates from a non-VA source, including gifts from foreign governments.

    c. All requests for foreign travel while in a duty status (travel or authorized absence),
including shipboard cruises which exit U.S. territorial waters, require review and approval by the
official described in section 8.

    d. Foreign travel in a duty status must result in a specific benefit to the VA. Foreign travel
must not be for routine purposes or to accommodate personal interests. Authorization of foreign
travel is a privilege to the employee. NOTE: Annual leave in conjunction with official travel
will be scrutinized carefully. The period of official duty must always be longer than the period of
annual leave. If the balance between official duty and annual leave appears inappropriate, the
foreign travel request will be disapproved. No further requests to use annual leave while in the
foreign country will be approved during this period of travel. Emergency situations requiring
leave will be handled locally on a case-by-case basis.

    e. The review process must give primary consideration to the importance and value of the
trip to VA and to the employee’s performance of official duties. Justification must clearly
indicate how the proposed trip will further the mission of VA. Public relations or good will on
their own merits are not ordinarily considered appropriate justification to warrant approval of
foreign travel. However, exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis, as approved by, or at
the request of the VHA Under Secretary for Health.

    f. Approval of requests for additional time away from the facility (annual leave or leave
without pay) in conjunction with approved foreign travel is the responsibility of local
management in accordance with existing guidelines covering absences (see current VA Human
Resource Directives and Handbooks). Authorized absence may be approved for attendance at
meetings even if travel at government expense is not approved. However, the period of
authorized absence without charge to employee leave for travel at the employee's expense will
not exceed the time for which per diem would have been paid had travel been authorized at
Government expense (reference: VA Handbook 5011, Part III, Ch. 2 and Ch. 3).

    g. Official attendance at international conferences, including professional, medical, and
scientific meetings, requires clearance from the Department of State. All requests for country
clearance are processed through the Charge Card Oversight and Travel Policy Service (CCO &
TPS). At the time of clearance, any specific or specialized instructions or limitations will be
provided to the traveler. In certain circumstances, the traveler may be required to change lodging
reservations if the selected lodging does not meet Department of State approval. This is
normally due to the location of the lodging, not the quality of the lodging. NOTE: Questions
regarding country clearance procedures may be addressed to the local travel office who will
contact CCO & TPS at 202-461-6140.

   h. Medical Care appropriations will not be used to fund foreign travel for House Staff,
Trainees, Without Compensation (WOC) appointees, or less than 3/8 part-time physicians.



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    i. No appropriated funds are earmarked specifically for foreign travel. Approval of funds for
foreign travel must be based on the availability of local (facility, VISN, program office) travel
dollars.

    j. Foreign travel to attend a conference without formal participation on the agenda must be
scrutinized carefully for appropriateness; approval is contingent on the evaluation of
circumstances by the approving officials.

  k. Routine agency travel provisions relating to employee travel management contained in
VA Employee Travel Management policies are always applicable.

    l. When traveling in a foreign country on official business as an employee of the Federal
Government, all travelers must enter and exit the host country using either an Official
Government Passport or a Diplomatic Passport. The type of passport is determined by the
destination country, the physical work location, and the rank and duties of the traveler. When an
employee travels officially to a foreign country, if any issues arise, the host country is required to
notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate office within a short time frame. NOTE: Travel under an
Official Government Passport, which includes a diplomatic passport, protects the traveler and
ensures that the U.S. Embassy or Consulate will take responsibility for the traveler in an
emergency.

m. Approval of foreign travel does not simultaneously convey authority for an employee to
accept non-VA support for the travel. Approval of the acceptance of any non-VA support
remains the responsibility of the facility Director. A completed copy of VA Form 0893, Advance
Review of Offer to Donate Support for Official VA Travel,
http://vaww.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA0893.pdf, (NOTE: This is an internal VA link, not
available to the public.) must be reviewed and signed by Regional Counsel or Office of General
Counsel prior to the approval of the trip by the designated approving official. The completed VA
Form 0893 and Regional Counsel, Office of General Counsel, or Office of Intergovernmental
Affairs comments need to accompany all foreign travel requests that request authority to accept
non-VA support (reference: 31 U.S.C. § 1353). NOTE: Office of General Counsel or Regional
Counsel does not approve travel, but indicates there is no legal objection to the travel.

     p. The Philippines Outpatient Clinic (OPC) is the only VA medical care facility located in a
foreign country and is an integral part of the United States mission to the Republic of the
Philippines. As a result of its mission, travel to the Philippines is required for oversight and
conduct of clinical and administrative operations. Travel to that site is considered part of
conducting responsible and routine business. Review and approval of foreign travel requests by
any staff to this OPC is delegated to the VISN 21 Network Director. The delegation of authority
is limited to authorizing VA staff that may provide oversight or operational, clinical or
administrative guidance to the clinic. However, travel requests for any other travel to Manila or
the Philippines that does not involve specific VHA work at the Philippines OPC will follow all
requirements of Foreign Travel Requests, review and approval, and is not delegated to the VISN
21 Network Director.



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5. DEFINITIONS

    a. Authorized Absence. Authorized time away from normal duty without charge to leave.
Employees in an authorized absence status are considered to be in an official duty status for the
purposes of foreign travel and as such, remain representatives of VA. VA does not support any
travel costs when a traveler is in an authorized absence status for foreign travel. NOTE:
Foreign travel in an authorized absence capacity requires an official government passport.

    b. Dangerous Country. Dangerous countries are those where travel warnings have been
issued by the U.S. Department of State. Travel warnings are issued when conditions in a certain
country or location might affect traveler safety and security. The list of identified countries
changes frequently. Travelers need to review the DOS Web site prior to each episode of travel.
In addition, the State Department issues Consular Information Sheets for every country of the
world with information on such matters as: health conditions; crime; unusual currency or entry
requirements; areas of instability; and the location of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in the
subject country. The State Department determines final approval for travel to dangerous
countries. Travel to dangerous countries and locations needs to be undertaken with proper
consideration for the risks of travel. The Web site for the list of dangerous countries is
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html.

   c. Duration of Foreign Travel. Requests for foreign travel that exceed 14 days, in either a
single request or as an aggregated total for the fiscal year, must be sent to the Under Secretary for
Health for approval. NOTE: Any single foreign travel request in excess of 30 days will be
considered under the Extended Educational Leave Handbook.

   d. Foreign Country. For the purpose of foreign travel considerations, any country or
government not part of the United States is considered a foreign country. The United States is
defined as the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories and Possessions, which
include the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and the U.S.
Virgin Islands.

   e. Foreign Government. For the purpose of acceptance of gifts, a foreign government is
defined as:

   (1) Any unit of foreign governmental authority, including any foreign national, state, local,
and municipal government;

    (2) Any international or multinational organization whose membership is composed of any
unit of foreign government described in subparagraph e (1); or

    (3) Any agent or representative of any such unit or such organization, while acting as such.

   f. Foreign Travel Request Packet. Documents which provide complete information
necessary to facilitate all aspects of the foreign travel request process. The packet includes:




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   (1) Request for Foreign Travel Approval (Cover Letter).

   (2) Foreign Travel Information Collection Forms, Appendix B.

   (3) Copy of brochure describing the meeting or activity.

   (4) A complete itinerary of the trip.

   (5) Letters of invitation or acceptance confirming specific activities while in the foreign
country.

   (6) Department of Veterans Affairs Travel Policy Division, Application for Country
Clearance, VA Form 0900, July 2008, http://vaww.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA0900.pdf. NOTE:
This is an internal VA link, not available to the public.

    (7) Where a gift or donation of any type has been offered in support of official travel, VA
Form 0893, Advance Review of Offer to Donate Support for Official VA Travel,
http://vaww.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA0893.pdf (NOTE: This is an internal VA link, not
available to the public) must be completed and signed by either Regional Counsel or the Office
of General Counsel. All gifts or donations from a foreign government must also be reviewed by
the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

     g. High Cost Travel Trigger. For appropriate fiscal management, single trips where the
cost to the VA exceeds $3000 will trigger an automatic review by the Second Line Reviewer
(this is the Network Director for facility-based staff). For single trips where the cost to the VA
exceeds $5000, an automatic review by the Level III Reviewer (Under Secretary for Health) is
required. NOTE: See Foreign Travel Approval Decision Grid, Appendix A, for definitions of
first, second and third level reviewers.

    h. Official Duty Status (Official Capacity). Foreign travel by VA employees may occur as
an extension of their education, research, patient care or administrative responsibilities. Official
duty status may be offered for attendance at conferences or other international-level meetings,
presentation of research results, learning or sharing skills, competencies or knowledge, or site
visits to institutions or agencies that could be of value to VA. Foreign travel under either an
Official Travel Authority or under Approved Authorized Absence is considered to be travel in an
official duty status.

     i. Official Passport (Government Passport). An Official Passport is burgundy in color and
is issued to an official or employee of the U.S. Government proceeding abroad in the discharge
of official duties. The passport remains the property of the United States and is valid up to 5
years from the date of issue as long as the bearer maintains the status that continues entitlement
to this passport. A passport with less than 6 months before its expiration cannot be used on
official travel. The official passport may not be used during episodes of personal travel. If
personal travel is combined with authorized foreign travel, the traveler must use a Tourist
Passport (see Tourist Passport). Official Passports are to be returned to the Charge Card
Oversight and Travel Policy Service (CCO&TPS) between official usages. NOTE: Both

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Official and Tourist passports must be taken and used accordingly when official and personal
travel is combined.

   j. Philippines OPC Travel. Approval of travel by any staff to the Philippines OPC for the
purposes of oversight of clinical and administrative operations is delegated to the VISN 21
Network Director. However, all other procedures must be followed. NOTE: An official
government passport is necessary for this category of travel.

    k. Charge Card Oversight and Travel Policy Service. The Charge Card Oversight and
Travel Policy Service manages all aspects of travel policy relating to official and authorized
travel for all VA employees. This includes temporary duty (TDY), permanent change of station
(PCS), foreign, and local travel. Within that scope, the Charge Card Oversight and Travel Policy
Service reads, writes, interprets, defines and provides training when needed, requested or
required. The Charge Card Oversight and Travel Policy Service is responsible for providing
information to GSA, Congress, and other agencies and offices when requested or required by
regulation or statute.

    l. Tourist Passport. A Tourist Passport is blue in color and is to be obtained by persons
proceeding abroad in an unofficial or personal capacity. The passport is valid up to 10 years
from the date of issue. Use of the tourist passport when traveling in an official capacity
misrepresents the true purpose for which the traveler has entered the country and can have
serious and adverse affect on U.S. reciprocal relations with foreign countries. Some countries
will deny entry at the border to someone entering the country on official business who arrives
with only a tourist passport and not the official passport. An official or diplomatic visa cannot be
stamped on a tourist passport. Travelers are responsible for their tourist passport.

6. OVERVIEW OF FOREIGN TRAVEL APPROVAL PROCESSES

    a. Foreign travel for the VHA employee is a privilege that carries responsibility,
accountability, and risk. All requests for foreign travel must be completed in time to allow for
review and concurrence by the appropriate oversight officials, and to obtain an official
government passport. Requests must be submitted at least 60 days prior to the initiation of
travel. Requests that are submitted with an inadequate lead time will be returned to the traveler
without review or concurrence. The Request for Foreign Travel packet requires that the request
for an official government passport be initiated at the start of the travel approval process.

    b. For most trips involving both low cost and low risk, authority to review and approve
foreign travel has been delegated to the Facility and Network Directors. As the risk or cost of the
trip increases, the approval occurs at higher and higher organizational levels. The approval level
is determined by the position of the individual traveling, the danger of the country, the travel
funding source, the number of days requested, and the total cost of the single travel request.
Specifics to the scope and function of foreign travel approval authority are found in Appendix A,
Foreign Travel Decision Grid.

   c. Only those requests for travel that are the highest cost or risk are submitted to the Under
Secretary for Health for approval. All requests for foreign travel, where cumulative fiscal year


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travel equals or exceeds 14 days, must be approved by the Under Secretary for Health. Requests
for foreign travel equal to or in excess of 30 days in a single trip are also considered an Extended
Educational Leave trip and need to be processed under the Extended Educational Leave approval
process, as well as the Foreign Travel approval process. NOTE: All foreign travel requests need
to be complete and follow the processes shown below. Any foreign travel request that is
incomplete or not timely will be disapproved.

7. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE TRAVELER

   All requests for foreign travel must allow adequate time for review and concurrence by the
appropriate oversight officials according to the following requirements:

    a. The VHA traveler must complete and submit the Foreign Travel Request Packet
(Appendix B) 60 days prior to anticipated foreign travel. Information that must be supplied by
the traveler to complete a foreign travel request includes:
    (1) “Request for Foreign Travel Approval” cover letter addressed to the Under Secretary for
Health and signed by all requisite institutional officials. This letter needs to describe in detail the
circumstances of the travel, the justification for VA support of the travel, and all relevant details
that support the request. See Foreign Travel Decision Grid (Appendix A) for necessary
signatures.

   (2) Completed Foreign Travel Information Collection Form (Appendix B).

    (3) Completed Application for Country Clearance, VA Form 0900
http://vaww.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA0900.pdf . NOTE: This is an internal VA link, not
available to the public.

   (4) Completed VA Form 0893 http://vaww.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA0893.pdf, (NOTE:
This is an internal VA link, not available to the public.) required in instances where a VHA
employee receives a gift or donation for transportation, lodging, registration or other travel
expense.
   (5) Copy of brochure describing the meeting or activity.


   (6) A complete itinerary of the trip.


    (7) Letters of invitation or acceptance confirming specific activities while in the foreign
country. The letters of invitation or brochure must specifically delineate the exact character of
the activities of the traveler such as: poster presentation, plenary session presentation, breakout
session presentation, facilitation role, moderator role, panel presenter, keynote speaker, or
attendance only.




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    b. Care must be taken that the Application for Country Clearance (VA Form 0900,
http://vaww.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA0900.pdf NOTE: This is an internal VA link, not
available to the public.) has been completed and emailed or faxed to the Charge Card Oversight
and Travel Policy Service within the required 60-day timeframe. Approval to obtain an official
government passport is independent of the approval process for the trip, and both must occur
simultaneously. Failure by the traveler to obtain a government passport negates all approved
travel plans. NOTE: No VHA employee may proceed with foreign travel in an official duty
status without an official government passport. Periods of personal travel that abut official duty
foreign travel require an additional personal passport. At no time is a VHA employee to travel
on personal time under an official government passport, and at no time is a VHA employee to
travel on official duty with only a personal passport.

    c. If the funding source is non-Federal, the traveler must complete VA Form 0893, Advance
Review of Offer to Donate Support for Official VA Travel,
http://vaww.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA0893.pdf, (NOTE: This is an internal VA link, not
available to the public.) for review by Regional or General Counsel. Counsel review needs to be
accomplished by Regional Counsel for facility or VISN staff and the Office of General Counsel
for VHA Central Office staff. All requests for foreign travel where the funding source is a
foreign government must be forwarded to the Office of General Counsel and Office of
Intergovernmental Affairs for review before local management approval. All requests for foreign
travel where the funding source is a foreign government must be approved by VHA Under
Secretary for Health before travel.

   d. Requests for foreign travel equal to or greater than 30 days in a single trip are considered a
request for extended educational leave (sabbatical). These requests need to be reviewed and
approved through both the Foreign Travel and Extended Educational Leave Processes.

    e. At no time while on VA-supported foreign travel shall a VA patient care provider assume
responsibility for the clinical care of a non-VA patient, except those non-Veteran patients at the
Philippines OPC. This prohibition applies to periods of both VA-supported travel and authorized
absence. While on foreign travel, an employee is not protected by 38 U.S.C. 4116 for personal
liability (for malpractice) in the care of non-VA patients.

8. SUPERVISORY APPROVALS

    For most low cost, low risk trips, authority to review and approve foreign travel has been
delegated to the facility and Network Directors. As the risk or cost of the trip increases, the
approval occurs at higher and higher organizational levels. The approval level is determined by
the position of the individual traveling, the danger of the country, the travel funding source, the
number of days requested, and the total cost of the single travel request. Approvals occur in a
multi-level process, as the potential for risk, cost, or legal issues rise.

   a. Level I (Primary) Review/Approval Responsibilities. Level I Review (Primary
Review) is conducted following receipt of the completed Foreign Travel Request packet:

    (1) Medical Center Directors review the foreign travel requests of all medical center staff.


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   (2) Network Directors review the foreign travel requests of all Medical Center Directors and
VISN staff.

    (3) The Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Operations and Management reviews all
foreign travel requests of Network Directors and all VHA Central Office 10N staff.

   (4) Each Chief Officer reviews the foreign travel requests of all their program office staff.

   (5) The Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health reviews all Chief Officer and Deputy
Under Secretary for Health for Operations and Management foreign travel requests.

   (6) The Under Secretary for Health reviews the foreign travel requests of the Principal
Deputy Under Secretary for Health.

   b. Level I (Primary) Review/Approval Criteria. The Primary Review needs to include
focus on the approval criteria:

    (1) The Foreign Travel Packet is complete, including the cover letter, checklist and required
attached materials, and appropriate consultations and forms.

   (2) The travel is of specific benefit to VA.

    (3) If a gift or donation is involved, VA Form 0893 has been completed by the traveler and
has been reviewed by the Office of Regional Counsel, and approval for the acceptance of the gift
has been granted (Funding Source Criteria).

   (4) The request is for travel by eligible staff. NOTE: Trainees, WOC appointees, or less
than 3/8 part time staff are ineligible.

    (5) The appropriate consultations have taken place and the resulting responses or comments
are recorded.

   (a) The local Education Committee or the Research and Development Committee review and
approval is completed.

  (b) If VA-appropriated research funds are being used, the mandatory review and approval by
VHA Office of Research and Development is completed.

    (6) The request to obtain an Official Government Passport is in progress and was submitted
60 days in advance of travel.

   (7) The travel involves a scientific meeting, educational experience, or other appropriate
opportunity not reasonably available in the United States.

   (8) The traveler has been invited by a credible and well-known national or international
organization.

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   (9) If more than one person is applying to travel to the same meeting, a determination by the
appropriate authority, has been made that this travel is appropriate.

   (10) The balance between official time and personal time appears reasonable and
appropriate, and this trip can withstand external scrutiny.

    (11) If any of the applicable approval criteria are not met the travel request must be
disapproved at the Primary Reviewer Level, and the traveler notified. NOTE: All paperwork
for approved and disapproved travel must be saved for quarterly reporting to the Office of
Academic Affiliations.

     c. Criteria for advancement of requests to Level II Review

   (1) If the funding support (direct or in-kind) is from a foreign government the request must
proceed to a Level II Reviewer.

   (2) If the cost for the trip is in excess of $3,000 of VA-appropriated funds (Cost Criteria) the
request must proceed to a Level II Reviewer.

    (3) If the request is for cumulative foreign travel in the current fiscal year lasting more than 7
days including this current trip the request must proceed to a Level II Reviewer. NOTE: The 7
days away from the facility includes travel time, holidays and weekends occurring within the
approved travel period, and is not prorated in any way because of full- or part-time VA
appointment. The primary reviewer may approve 7 cumulative days in a fiscal year or 7 days in
a single trip (Duration Criteria).

    (4) If the trip is to a dangerous country (Safety Criteria) the request must proceed to a Level
II Reviewer.

   d. Level II (Secondary) Review Responsibilities. Level II (Secondary) Review needs to be
conducted following a full review of the Foreign Travel Request packet and after approval by the
Primary Reviewer has been obtained. A Level II Secondary Review is only necessary when the
request meets the following criteria:

    (1) The Network Director is the Secondary Reviewer for foreign travel by all medical center
facility staff.

   (2) The Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Operations and Management is the Secondary
Reviewer for foreign travel by Medical Center Directors and VISN staff.

    (3) The Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health is the Secondary Reviewer for foreign
travel by Network Directors, program office staff, and 10N staff.

    (4) The VHA Chief of Staff is the Secondary Reviewer for foreign travel by program office
staff for which they are responsible.


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    (5) Under Secretary for Health is the Secondary Reviewer for all foreign travel requests for
Chief Officers, The Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health, The Deputy Under Secretary
for Health for Operations and Management, the Chief of Staff and other direct reports.

    e. Level II (Secondary) Review/Approval Criteria. Level II (Secondary) review of foreign
travel requests must occur when the request meets one or more of the following criteria:

    (1) The travel cost to the VA is between $3000 and $5000 in VA-appropriated medical care
or research dollars. If the cost is more than $5000, the request must proceed to a Level III
Review.

    (2) The foreign travel requested is between 7 and 14 days in a single trip or cumulative in the
fiscal year, including the current request. If the request is more than 14 days, the request must
proceed to a Level III Review.

   (3) If the trip is to a dangerous country as defined by the State Department the request must
proceed to Level III Review.

   (4) If the traveler requests approval to receive foreign government support the request must
proceed to Level III Review.

   (5) If the travel request has significant legal issues the request must proceed to Level III
Review.

   f. Level III (USH) Review/Approval Criteria. Level III Review, conducted by the Under
Secretary for Health, is needed for foreign travel requests meeting any one these specifications:

   (1) Any foreign government paid travel requests. Such requests must have been reviewed
and approved by the Office of General Counsel and the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs,
before submission to the Under Secretary for Health.

   (2) Requests that exceed $5000 in total travel cost.

   (3) Requests that exceed 14 days duration (single or multiple trips including current trip).

   (4) Requests for travel to a country appearing on the Dangerous Country list.

   (5) Requests for travel involving significant legal issues as determined by the Office of
General Counsel.

9. RECORDS AND REPORTS

    a. All foreign travel requests, approved and disapproved, must be tracked by the originating
facility, VISN or office. The specific informational items that must be tracked are:


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January 14, 2010                                                        VHA HANDBOOK 1400.06

     (1) Identity of the traveler (name, facility, service, eighths);

     (2) Country of travel;

     (3) Duration of the trip (days);

     (4) Estimated and Actual Cost of the trip;

     (5) Purpose of the trip;

   (6) Funding entity and corporate status (VA vs. non-VA, for-profit, non-profit,
governmental); if VA, which appropriation (medical care or research); and.

     (7) Whether the travel was approved or disapproved.

    b. Individual facilities must submit the information required in Paragraph 9.a. (1) through (7)
on each foreign travel request to their VISN office by the 21st of the month after the end of a
fiscal quarter (January 21, April 21, July 21 and October 21) of each year.

    c. Each VISN must submit a consolidated report reflecting information from all of their
facilities on the first of the next month after the fiscal quarter ends (for example, February 1, May
1, August 1, November 1). Consolidated VISN data needs to be submitted to the Office of
Academic Affiliations, either through email distribution or using upload/data entry to a Web site
(TBA).

   d. At the end of each fiscal year’s data collection efforts, the Office of Academic Affiliations
submits a consolidated report for all VISNs to the Deputy Under Secretary for Health for
Operations and Management, Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health, and the Under
Secretary for Health.




12
VHA HANDBOOK 1400.06                                                                                        January 14, 2010



                                                                                                                    Appendix A

                                            FOREIGN TRAVEL
                                               APPROVAL
                                             DECISION GRID




                                           Medical Center Directors   VHACO Staff & VISN          DUSHOM
    Traveler        Facility-Based Staff       & VISN Staff               Directors            or Chief Officer



                      Medical Center                                    Chief Officer or
Level I Review          Director                VISN Director             DUSHOM                   PDUSH



                                                                                             *Under Secretary for
 Level II Review      VISN Director           DUSHOM (10N)              PDUSH or COS               Health



                    through DUSHOM             through PDUSH

                    Under Secretary for      Under Secretary for       Under Secretary for   Under Secretary for
 Level III Review        Health                   Health                    Health                Health




                                                                                                                          A-1
VHA HANDBOOK 1400.06                                                          January 14, 2010

APPENDIX B

Foreign Travel Information Collection Sheet

Required Attachment Check List
    “Request for Foreign Travel Approval” Cover Letter addressed to Under Secretary for
     Health and signed by all intermediary approving levels (see Foreign Travel Approval
     Decision grid)


    Foreign Travel Information Collection Forms (Appendix B – E)



    Completed Application for Country Clearance (VA Form 0900)
       o http://vaww.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA0900.pdf This is an internal web site not
           available to the public.
       o Must be emailed to officialpassports@va.gov or faxed to 202-273-6996 or 202-
           273-5990
       o Must be submitted at the same time as the VA Foreign Travel request but in no
           case less than 60 days before travel begins
       o Must be completed for every individual Foreign Travel Request
       o For passport and foreign travel related matters contact VA’s International Travel
           Coordinator at 202-461-6140 or officialpassports@va.gov
       o Additional VA Travel policy and passport information can be found at
           https://vaww1.va.gov/ccotps/ This is an internal web site not available to the
           public.

    VA Form 0893 Advance Review of Offer to Donate Support for Official Travel when a
     gift or donation in support of official travel has been offered
     (http://vaww.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA0893.pdf). This is an internal web site not
     available to the public.


    Copy of brochure describing the meeting or activity


    A complete itinerary of the trip describing each day of activities or travel


    Copies of letters of invitation/acceptance confirming specific activities while in the
     foreign country




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VHA HANDBOOK 1400.06                                                       January 14, 2010

APPENDIX C

Required Information: Travel Dates and Expenses

    Name of Traveler/VA Title/Mail Code


    Destination/Name(s) of Meeting(s)


    Dates of Travel (list each day of trip and annotate VA vs. Non-VA day)
     Note: The dates of travel should include all days of personal leave, authorized
     absence, as well as paid TDY travel authority.


    Travel Costs
        o Lodging: $
        o Meals: $
        o Airfare: $
        o Ground Transportation: $
        o Rental Car $


    Other Expenses:
            o Registration Fee for the meeting or similar function: $
            o Other $


    Total Trip Expense (Add Total travel costs + other costs)

   $__________________________________________________________




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VHA HANDBOOK 1400.06                                                      January 14, 2010

APPENXIX D

Required Information: Travel Fund Sources (*Provide dollar amount per source)

      Non-VA requiring OGC review (Note that acceptance of ANY gift or donation in
       support of official travel requires regional/OGC (023) review and approval via VA
       Form 0893)
       http://vaww.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA0893.pdf This is an internal web site not
         available to the public.

            o 501c3 source (non-profit) (such as VA non-profit corporations) $

            o For profit source    $


            o Foreign non-Governmental Entity $

            o Foreign Government Entity $
              (this support requires OGC/OIA/ USH review via VA Form 0893)

    Other funding Sources not requiring OGC review
          o General Post Funds $ ______________________________________
          o Other Federal Agency $__________________________ (NIH, AHRQ, NSF)
          o Travelers Personal Funds (for authorized absence) $
          o Other $____________________________________________________


      Travel Funds from VA appropriated Travel/Tuition Funds

            o Medical Care Appropriation $_____________*requires local Education review

            o Research Appropriation $________________*requires local Research AND
              ORD review

Total Trip Funding Support (Total of above)

$ ________________________________________________




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VHA HANDBOOK 1400.06                                                       January 14, 2010

APPENDIX E

Required Information: Additional Questions


     Is Authorized Absence for Foreign Travel being requested?
       Yes_____ No_____


     Number of cumulative days of Authorized Absence for Foreign Travel used this Fiscal
      Year? ____


     Is the request for Foreign Travel being submitted in conjunction with a request for
      Extended Educational Leave?        Yes _______No_____


     Has appropriate coverage been arranged to cover patient care during the period of
      Foreign Travel?    Yes_____ No_____


     Have patient clinics been cancelled to accommodate Foreign Travel?
                        Yes_____ No______


     Number of VA Travelers expected on this trip? _________
        o If greater than one traveler, please give reason.
           ___________________________________________________




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VHA HANDBOOK 1400.06                                                     January 14, 2010

APPENDIX F



Link to VA Form 0893:

http://vaww.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA0893.pdf This is an internal web site not available to
the public.

Link to VA Form 0900 (Country Clearance Application)

http://vaww.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA0900.pdf This is an internal web site not available to
the public.




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